Mexico and US trade accusations on border violence
President Obama and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon traded barbs after a three-party meeting that included Canada.
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The flow of guns, especially assault weapons, from the United States to Mexico sabotages the work of his government in fighting the drug gangs, and the U.S. government has not done enough to stop it, Calderon said.Skip to next paragraph
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"Despite the perception of my country, last year 23 million tourists came to our country by plane, plus another 7 million in cruise ships, plus another 50 million," who came by land, Calderon said, during a rambling defense of his nation's overall safety and stability.
He credited Obama with making an effort to reduce the gun traffic, but said Obama faces "internal problems ... from a political point of view." That is a reference to Republican opposition in Congress and wide opposition from Republicans and gun-rights advocates elsewhere to a new assault weapons ban or other curbs on gun sales that feed the Mexican market.
Calderon singled out the high number of gun shops along the U.S.-Mexico border, dangling the possibility that there is a deliberate attempt to profit from the Mexican market.
The Obama administration claims that in the absence of an assault rifle ban that expired before Obama took office, it is working to tighten inspections of border checkpoints and require reporting of multiple sales of large weapons.
Obama acknowledged the U.S. role in creating the demand the Mexican drug market supplies.
"The Mexican government has taken this very seriously, at great cost to itself," Obama said during a Rose Garden news conference dominated by U.S. domestic political fare. We have an obligation to take it just as seriously, in part because we are the ultimate destination for a large chunk of this market."
The Obama White House has ruled out any consideration of legalizing drugs such as cocaine or heroin, which would undercut the criminal cartels.
Notable by its absence from a post-summit news conference in the Rose Garden was the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada's oil sands in Alberta through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Obama shelved the plan pending further review — and has endured ferocious Republican attacks ever since, with Republicans calling the move a blow to job creation and U.S. energy needs. He maintains Republican leaders in Congress forced his hand by insisting on a decision before an acceptable pipeline route was found.
Harper has voiced disappointment with Obama's decision. He also visited China in February to explore alternatives. Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves — more than 170 billion barrels — after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2025.